The HSE released the provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents on July 1st. The statistics have revealed that 111 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2019 and March 2020 (a rate of 0.34 deaths per 100,000 workers), which, is now the lowest year on record. Overall, there was a fall in the number fatalities by 38 cases based on the previous year, which clearly shows that the UK is heading in the right direction.
One thing we do need to bear in mind is the likelihood that the fall in accident statistics may have actually been positively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the final two months of the year where parts of UK industry shut down during lockdown and some of the higher-risk areas, including the waste industry, saw operations significantly reduced and staff placed under the furlough scheme.
We must also take in to account that these figures do not include deaths from occupational disease (In line with previous years’ fatal injury statistics). Covid-19 infection is therefore not part of these figures and will not feature in fatal injury statistics in subsequent years. The HSE revised the RIDDOR reporting requirements to include Covid-19, however, as of July 9th, there had been no known cases of workplace-related Covid-19 transmission across UK industry reported.
Headline figures include:
- 40 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded, accounting for the largest share.
- 20 fatal injuries to agricultural, forestry and fishing workers were recorded, the lowest level on record.
- 5 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 18 times as high as the total industry rate.
The HSE have urged the waste management sector not to forget to control other serious risks while taking measures to control the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace. Waste accident stats have reduced, however, anecdotal evidence suggest near-miss reports are increasing with a high potential for serious accidents, so the there is a perception that the industry may be forgetting the basics.
The HSE have continued to bring about prosecutions during the period of lockdown with 6 prosecutions between March and July 2020 in other sectors – 3 were directly attributable to inadequate machinery guards, poor supervision and monitoring. On a more positive note however, there was not a single waste-related prosecution between March and July 2020.